If your eyes and nose itch, your friends ask if you've been crying and you have burned through the box of tissues you just bought yesterday, then you know - allergy season is upon us. Armed with nasal spray and allergy medication, you forge through the day like the brave soldier you are, wondering when your symptoms will strike again and leave you a liquefied mess.
If you have allergies, you know they can take you down and ruin your day in, literally, the blink of a pollen-polluted eye. Before you give up on getting any relief, consider these interesting insights – and how they might help alleviate your symptoms:
Blue over blue skies? Recent studies say allergy sufferers are at nearly double the risk for depression. Why? Allergy symptoms can wear you down and leave you feeling depleted – the culmination of unrelenting itchiness and sniffles, fatigue and headaches. Allergic reactions also trigger the release of compounds in the body that may adversely affect your serotonin levels. Serotonin is responsible for helping you maintain a feeling of well-being. In general, allergies can slow you down or altogether derail your daily activities – especially outdoors – making you cranky.
What you can do: Make an appointment with your allergist to discuss your treatment options. Be sure to mention your mood. And if you have allergies and a history of clinical depression, work with your health care provider on a treatment plan through allergy season.
Fresh food a foil? Not to be confused with food allergies, some of you seasonal allergy sufferers may experience worse symptoms when you bite into a juicy apple, munch on a slice of red pepper or taste the first, ripe peach of summer. This phenomenon, known as food-pollen allergy syndrome, happens when your body mistakes plant protein in fruits and vegetables for pollen. Unlike food allergies, which tend to create a whole-body effect, food-pollen allergy syndrome reactions are localized – resulting in an itchy mouth, tongue and throat – and those affected are typically older children and adults.
What you can do: If you notice more-than-normal itching in your mouth and throat when you eat fresh produce, peel your raw fruits and vegetables, or stick to the cooked varieties.
Home harboring allergens? Carpeting is a catch-all for dust and pet dander. Open windows may invite a cooling breeze – along with a sneeze-inducing festival of pollen. Sheets, blankets, pillowcases and comforters are also a hotbed of dust mite activity.
What you can do: If your home has wall-to-wall carpeting and you have bad seasonal allergies, you'll want to vacuum weekly – and if you have a bag vacuum, change the bag frequently. Vacuum cleaners with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter are a good bet, too. If you have area rugs on hardwoods, tile or linoleum, roll them up for the months in which your allergies are in full bloom. Allergens can't nest as easily on hard surfaces. Keep your windows closed during high-pollen hours – 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. And wash your bedding weekly on the "hot" (at least 130° F) water setting – it's the only way to kill the mites.